The global financial crisis is generating an extreme level of uncertainty among Australian employers, evaporating the confidence that was evident in the employment market during 2007 and much of 2008.
Hudson's quarter-one employment expectations research revealed that Australia's employer confidence had reached its lowest level on record, with declines in hiring sentiment recorded across Australia within every sector surveyed, including the legal industry.
The in-house legal market has been impacted by the economic downturn as large organisations seek to reduce costs and maximise efficiency. Corporations are reducing the size of their legal teams to reflect the decreased level of economic activity in the business and are calling for contract lawyers to work for defined periods - generally for three to six months - to navigate permanent headcount freezes.
In Sydney and Melbourne, the decline in confidence in the banking and financial services sector has resulted in decreased demand for in-house lawyers in this sector. In Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide, energy and resources companies are now seeking to consolidate their positions after previously expanding their legal teams to address the resources boom. While the decreased demand for permanent in-house lawyers has been fairly consistent across Australia, there are pockets of the market in which in-house lawyers continue to be sought.
For example, IT lawyers continue to be in demand in the Eastern States. In addition, Australia's public sector continues to demonstrate a strong demand for in-house lawyers. Major infrastructure projects at both federal and state levels are anticipated over the coming year, which will require the services of government legal teams. Government lawyers will also continue to be in demand to support essential government services such as transport, education, health, water and key regulatory bodies.
At Hudson Legal, despite the downturn in demand, we continue to receive new in-house roles on a regular basis. We recommend you have a conversation with one of our specialist legal consultants who can advise you about current in-house opportunities across Australia.